Fish, omega 3’s, mercury and pregnancy

fishThe question of eating fish while trying to conceive and during pregnancy seems to come up a lot. On one hand we need the essential fatty acids that fish offers for the health and development of the baby’s eyes, brain and nervous system. Not to mention mum’s immune system and hormones that are involved in the growth of the placenta. On the other hand what about the mercury content and issues with over fishing?
The good news is that there are fish that are OK to eat and the ones to avoid are easy.
Ideally a serve of fish 3 times per week is recommended plus a daily dose of good quality fish oils.
The following fish are low in mercury and  high in omega 3’s. They are also considered a better choice by the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

  • Mackerel
  • Wild Australian Salmon and tinned salmon
  • Herrings
  • Sardines

The following fish are low in mercury but not as high in omega 3’s (while still being a good environmental choice) are as follows:

  • Squid and octopus
  • Whiting
  • Wild Trevally
  • Mullet
  • Bream

A word about farmed fish:
In the past fish farming has been loosely regulated allowing for poor practises to develop. Some of these practises include overcrowding, the use of wild fisheries to supply feed and overuse of antibiotics to treat disease. With tighter regulations and pressure from the public many fisheries are improving their farming practises. If you are choosing farmed fish, its worth looking a bit further into the farm and how it does things.
A word about tinned tuna:
There are several species of tuna, all with varying levels of mercury and degrees of over fishing. Greenpeace has put together a website ranking tinned tuna from a sustainable perspective, but doesn’t take into consideration the mercury content.
Fortunately Skipjack seems to be both lower in mercury and generally “pole caught”, therefor better environmentally. Based on Greenpeace’s ranking Fish 4 Ever, Safcol and Greenseas are the top three.
White Ablacore is higher in mercury while yellowfin is at risk of overfishing.
Fish to avoid:

  • Shark (flake)
  • Orange Roughy
  • Swordfish
  • Ling
  • Marlin

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